Visuals are a big part of the Tycho live show and I’m often asked how they were created and presented in a live setting. The answer is VDMX, a modular video performance platform. For those of you familiar with video editing / effecting, you could think of it as a stripped down, real-time version of After Effects where every parameter is controllable via various protocols (MIDI, OSC) and even by other parameters. It can mix multiple sources using blending modes like multiply and color burn all while utilizing Quartz Composer effects.
I’ve been using VDMX for a few years now and it’s become one of those tools that I can’t live without. Because it’s modular, VDMX’s interface can be arranged in any way you prefer. I personally use three video decks with and effects bin on each and then a master effects bin. I trigger clips and modulate parameter via MIDI over IP from Reaper running on a Macbook Pro w/ a Vertex 3 MAX IOPS drive (VDMX eats data bandwidth alive!).
VDMX is an incredibly deep and flexible application which I have yet to see any real limitation to. The workflow and functionality is so abstract that there are myriad ways to accomplish pretty much anything you can think of. And therein lies the only real problem I can find with VDMX; the flexibility and modularity afforded by the abstract way in which the application functions comes at the expense of usability. The learning curve is very steep and many of the initial concepts are a little tough to wrap your head around. Vidvox (the developers of VDMX) have put together some great tutorial videos which can help move the learning process along.
Thankfully a new version is out, and with it come some very helpful additions and changes. VDMX 5 is an entirely new program, written from the ground up. For those coming from older versions a lot of the way VDMX works will feel familiar. But you’ll quickly notice that some subtle changes in workflow make a big difference. I just started learning the new version during this current tour and it was pretty straight forward.
VDMX, while certainly not geared toward the casual user, is one of those apps that will allow you to grow into it. The relatively steep learning curve will pay off pretty quickly when you realize just what it’s capable of.
You can grab a demo and get more info here.